SECURING HOMES AND JOBS THROUGH ENERGY EFFICIENCY
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of millions of Americans are unemployed or working from home. More time at home increases the energy people are using and contributes to costly bills. Currently, one quarter of all households in the U.S. say they are struggling with paying bills.
Families across the country are now forced to make a choice: pay excessive heating and cooling costs or live in unsafe conditions.
In order to keep the lights on, low-income households struggling to afford their bills are forced to make the impossible choice to cut-back on critical necessities such as medication or food, or heating and cooling their home. To find immediate relief and long-term solutions for the millions of people struggling to pay their bills, Dream Corps Green For All interviewed anti-poverty experts, utility advocates, weatherization assistance program managers, and energy policy experts to provide insights into these challenges. Recommendations for state authorities, utility providers, and federal policymakers are shared in the report, Safe at Home in the Time of COVID.
COVID-19 has exposed how vulnerable our society is in the face of an economic, social, and public health crisis. The Safe at Home in the Time of COVID-19 report includes critical findings and recommendations for policymakers and government agencies. In the short term, President Biden must extend the utility shut-off moratorium to give immediate relief to families fighting to keep the heat on. To support struggling families, substantial relief means solving the root of the problem – reducing unemployment and upgrading old, drafty homes. Congress can do this now, by passing $10 billion for weatherization to ensure all Americans are safe in their homes. Now is the time for an economic stimulus that better funds the weatherization assistance program and invests in inclusive workforce development and job training programs for underrepresented workers.
The federal COVID response to utility shut-offs has been inadequate. Take action to increase access to jobs and improve the health, safety, and affordability of our homes.
We’re calling on Congress to:
- Enact a federal utility shut-off moratorium to get immediate relief to families fighting to keep the heat on.
- Alleviate the utility debt of households struggling to survive COVID-19.
- Pass at least $10 billion for home weatherization to ensure all Americans stay safe at home.
- COVID has exposed the essential nature of utility services and made the need for energy justice reform even more urgent.
- Insufficient federal action has resulted in a fragmented response to the crisis that leaves millions of households with utility debt and risk of disconnection.
- Without access to local data, policymakers and advocates lack the needed information to fully understand the financial impacts of the pandemic on utility consumers.
- Weatherization can continue during COVID-19 with proper safety measures and proactive communication with residential consumers.
- Federal investment in energy efficiency must be coupled with good utility rate design to address long-term affordability.
- Safety issues in the home that increase vulnerability to respiratory illness, including COVID, often disqualify low-income households from accessing crucial weatherization services.
Green For All has several recommendations for policymakers and government agencies pertaining to:
- Utility Debt Relief
- State Energy Efficiency Policies
- Federal Energy Efficiency Policies
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To the following contributors to the report:
Action, Inc. (LEAN multifamily) · Alliance to Save Energy · Catalyst Miami · Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance · National Association for State Community Services Programs · National Community Action Foundation · National Consumer Law Center · North Carolina Justice Center · No Shutoffs Coalition · The Natural Resources Defense Council · Ohio Citizen Action · Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy · Partnership for Southern Equity · PennFuture · Pennsylvania Utility Law Project · Power A Clean Future · Santa Fe Community College · Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance · Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute · The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy · The Utility Reform Network